Summer 2024

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Daniel Poncedeleon cites Bible inspiration as he returns from brain surgery

The last 14 months have been a whirlwind for Daniel Poncedeleon, who, before May 2017, was just your average minor-league pitcher trying to achieve a dream.

After offers from the Tampa Bay Rays, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs in three different MLB drafts, the California native landed with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2014. And three years later, during that fateful May, having worked his way to Triple-A, Poncedeleon saw his career — and his life — flash before his eyes. An Iowa Cubs batter sent one of his pitches right back at the mound, and that line drive struck Poncedeleon’s head. Emergency brain surgery followed, and the Cards prospect spent a half-dozen weeks in the hospital — and even more time off the diamond.

Now, however, in July 2018, with St. Louis angling to bypass the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Central, Poncedeleon has returned to the majors. As ESPN reported, the Cards recalled the pitcher and gave him the ball for Monday’s game in Cincinnati, the first of a three-game series. And he proceeded to mow down Cincy for seven no-hit innings.

The start marked Poncedeleon’s MLB debut after he was initially called up in June but never took the mound in three games. Most of all, though, it marked his against-all-odds rise to the majors after a life-threatening injury.

Along the way, Poncedeleon (9-3, 2.15 ERA in Triple-A this year) has cited the Bible as inspiration for hope. His Twitter bio, where he identifies as a Christian, reads only “Psalm 27:1.”

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?”

On Easter, Poncedeleon posted, “My Savior lives.” And after recovering from his 2017 surgery, he thanked fans for their prayers.

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